This may sound weird, given that this is a Batman site and all, but I think my favorite thing about Detective Comics #1009 is how little Batman there actually is.  Truly, other than the first few pages, Batman is not in costume much in this issue at all.  Instead, Bruce Wayne gets the focus, and honestly?  It’s a welcome change of pace.

What I love most about how Peter Tomasi writes Bruce here is that he actually gives him things to do.  Bruce goes to work.  He interacts with people, many of whom have probably never truly encountered Batman.  Bruce lives a life outside of the mask, and while his separate lives intersect in a way, this is mostly the Bruce Wayne show.

That, if we’re being honest, is something that Batman comics have been missing for a long time.  Sorely missing, in fact.  Bruce spends most of his time in costume, and even when he’s playing the part of “Bruce Wayne,” it’s more often in service to Batman than himself.  And, sure, we come to Batman comics to read about Batman, but how much richer does his world feel when he has a life outside of punching criminals?  That’s one of the strengths of Tomasi’s run so far, and I really hope he doesn’t shy away from exploring both halves of Bruce’s life in what I hope will end up being a very, very long tenure on Detective Comics.

Christian Duce lends his penciling skills to the book this week, and he starts things off with a bang.

To the face.

With a fist.

See?

There’s a fun little montage over the first few pages where Batman takes down a bunch of perps, all the while Alfred is imploring that Bruce be mindful of his daily schedule in the captions.  Duce’s style is really strong, nicely complemented by Luis Guerrero’s colors, and he lets the image of a thrown Batarang or launched grappling hook straddle the panel borders for a nice sense of dynamism and energy.  The montage is funny, too, with increasing numbers of crooks apprehended, all left with a sign detailing their crime and that they will confess.  Will that hold up in the court of law?  I mean, are you going to tell Batman that it won’t?

As we well know by now, Tomasi positively nails the relationship between Bruce and Alfred, and that’s nicely represented even when they’re not directly engaging with one another.  Bruce asks Ace if he’d like a job as a butler, which is a funny enough line on its own, and even moreso coming from Bruce.  Along with Batman: Universe, this is a good week of reminders that Bruce has a sense of humor.

Even when he’s being kind of a turd.  Must be where Damian gets it from.

There is a bit of action throughout, what with Deadshot making an appearance and what have you.  His introduction is brief, but memorable, as he receives a message from a messenger who locates him in the jungle.

Oh, and this messenger got to him by skydiving from a plane.

And of course Lawton is snide about his approach.

Even though it’s effectively to get Floyd details about a new job, it’s a fun scene.  Lawton is shooting at empty beer bottles when we first see him, and I got a big kick out of that for some reason.  Just the idea of Deadshot, in the middle of a forest, decked out in his gear, getting bored and having target practice.  Duce draws him really well, too, taking his modern look and keeping it from looking too busy and over-designed.

The disparate plot threads converge after Bruce’s meeting with some board members of the Gotham National Bank.  They’re expected at a summit in Singapore, which will deal with various emissions and how different companies plan to deal with various environmental concerns.  The first step?  Have everyone fly on the same gulfstream plane, instead of their own private jets.

The board members are less than thrilled.

The craziest thing about this issue is that it ends with an extended plane crash sequence, yet the most exciting and gripping part of it revolves around Bruce, Lucius, and Alfred simply talking to one another.  Tomasi reminds us that Bruce Wayne is a man with a life outside of the cape and cowl, and even if some of his abrasive and kind of doofish behavior is an act as well, he knows how to “play the part” to do what’s right.  If that means making a bunch of entitled CEOs unhappy then, well, I think we can all get behind that.

Not to say the plane crash isn’t exciting, though.  Deadshot poses as the co-pilot and hijacks the aircraft so he can go after his target: Bruce Wayne.  Lawton has a great line about how he can’t be bought… twice, that made me laugh out loud, but then the plan is hit by lightning.  Duce and Guerrero ratchet up the tension and suspense in this sequence with uneven panels that alternate between fairly wide shots to close-cropped and claustrophobic.  They’re able to evoke a sense of vertigo and unease, matching the fear and terror the passengers on the plane feel as they plummet toward the ground.

As the fuselage is ripped apart, Deadshot and Bruce are both thrown from the plane as it crash lands on a remote island.  That gives us the first of two cliffhangers in this issue, the other of which has Mr. Freeze working to restore his beloved Nora to life.  What is Freeze up to?  Did Deadshot, Bruce, and the other passengers survive?  How will Batman be able to make an appearance on a remote island without raising suspicions?

They’re all excellent questions that will no doubt be answered in two weeks time, so check back in then, chums.

In all seriousness, this is a good issue with some strong art and great writing, but it feels kind of unbalanced.  The opening montage is great, the focus on Bruce Wayne as opposed to Batman is welcome, Deadshot is utilized really well, and then final plane crash sequence is riveting.  Strong as the individual parts are, though, it still feels like a preface to the main story, which is likely the rescue of the CEOs from the island.  I don’t know what could have been done differently, and I certainly like what we got here just fine.  It just had individual pieces that were great by themselves, without ever being a truly great issue.

But still, Detective Comics has been consistently good for going on a year now, and I couldn’t be happier.

Recommended if:

  • You like a sassy Bruce Wayne.
  • You like Deadshot.
  • You’re waiting to see how Mr. Freeze plays into everything.

Overall: Take strong writing, a Bruce Wayne with a sense of humor, some stunning art, and energetic action sequences and you have… a pretty good issue of Detective Comics.  There’s something here that feels unbalanced, even though the parts of the whole are so good on their own.  Still, even if I can’t quite see the forest for the proverbial trees yet, I had a great time reading what Tomasi, Duce, Guerrero, and Leigh brought to the table.  Detective Comics continues its streak of strong storytelling since Tomasi came back onto the title, though, so it’s a good time to be a reader of ‘Tec.

SCORE: 8/10